From The Ground Up
The Publication of Archaeological Projects
a user needs survey
Appendix 3.5: Interview design
Phase I Interviews: an outline plan of the research and interview questions
NB Main research questions are in bold, mini-research questions in italic and the actual
interview questions are in normal font.
A. What modes of practice govern the use of fieldwork publications and how do these
relate to the overall research environment of the discipline?
i. To what extent does the questionnaire capture the complexity of people's use of fieldwork
- To begin with I just want to briefly go over how and why you use fieldwork
publications. I know you have already provided information relating to this in the
questionnaire, but I want to check that the questionnaire allowed you to provide an
adequate picture of your circumstances.
- So, could you summarise how and why you use fieldwork publications and tell me
whether you found the questionnaire appropriate to you.
ii. How do people use project archives, and perceive their relationship to fieldwork
publications, in terms of their own research/interests?
- What about project archives. Do you ever use them and do you feel that the
questionnaire was able to capture your use and needs in an adequate fashion?
- So, in terms of your own work, how do you see the relationship between fieldwork
publications and their respective project archives? [If this issue has already been
covered the interviewer should repeat the interviewee's view back to them for
B. What principles and assumptions govern people's attitudes towards the publication
of fieldwork projects and their expectations of such publications?
i. Why do members of the discipline think it is important to publish fieldwork projects and
what value do they place on them?
- I'd now like to move on to talk about the principles of publishing fieldwork projects -
if you like, the reasons behind their publication and the form they take. There is often
debate about why fieldwork projects are published and what form these publications
should take. What are you views on this issue? What should be the main reasons for
publishing fieldwork projects?
- Do you think all fieldwork projects should be treated in the same way when it comes
to publication? Should they all have the same level of dissemination etc? [If not, ask
how they think different levels of publication should be selected and whether they
have confidence in existing processes of selection]
- So, do you think the most important aspect of a fieldwork publication is to
disseminate primary evidence through extensive description of the findings, or do you
think analysis and interpretation is equally, or more, important? [Interviewer can
modify this question slightly to accommodate any previous statements on this]
- Do you think these objectives are fulfilled by recent fieldwork publications? [If the
response is negative prompt for reasons if not forthcoming]
ii. What expectations do people have regarding the content and structure of fieldwork
- What form do you think fieldwork publications should take - what should be included
in them? Should they contain a full account of the evidence or should they be more
selective in terms of dissemination? Should different levels of publication be adopted
for different projects? [Interviewer may wish to pick up on the implications of the
interviewees response to the previous question here]
- Do you like to see a clear distinction between descriptions of the evidence/findings of
the project and the analysis and interpretation of this evidence, or would you like to
see greater integration?
- Do you think that it is possible to provide an objective/unbiased account of the
evidence derived from a fieldwork project, or do you think that there is always an
element of selection and interpretation (subjectivity) by the individuals involved? [If
the interviewee takes the latter stance, ask them what they think is the best way to deal
with this issue. NB May need to adjust terms for different interviewees in order to
make this question comprehensible]
- Do you think it should be possible for users to assess the interpretations of the
author(s), and even re-interpret a site/survey in its entirety on the basis of the
information provided in the publication?
iii. What values do people place on project archives?
- I'd like to just briefly discuss the role of project archives with relation to the issues
we've just discussed. What you've said so far suggests that you [do/don't] see project
archives as playing an important role in providing access to information about a
project. Can you tell me why you think it is important to keep extensive records and
material remains from fieldwork projects.
- What problems do you see at present with project archives from a user's point of
view, and how do think these could be overcome?
C. To what extent is there a desire for change in the nature and form of fieldwork
publications, and where does desire for change (or resistance to change) stem from
within the discipline?
i. Do people see a need for changes in the way in which fieldwork projects are published and
archived, and if so why?
- Am I right then, that you [don't] see a need for change in the way in which fieldwork
projects are published? [Adjust question depending on the implications of what has
been said earlier]
- What about project archives? Should there also be changes in the way in which we
collect and maintain records and material remains from fieldwork projects?
ii. What would these changes involve in practice? [NB only applicable to those who advocate
change - if not skip these questions]
- What would these changes actually involve in terms of the form and content of
fieldwork publications? [prompt the interviewee to cover form, content, cost etc]
- Do you think it would be possible to make these changes just by modifying the way in
which fieldwork publications are written and produced? Or, would they require more
extensive revision of the way that field research is carried out?
D. How do the values and expectations regarding fieldwork publications intersect with
current interest groups within the discipline?
i. How do people see potential change in publication policy affecting themselves?
- How do think these changes you've just mentioned would affect your own use of
- Or, if the interviewee did not advocate any changes: Are there any potential changes
which you have concerns about? If so, how do you see them affecting your own use of
fieldwork publications and your own needs?
ii. How do people see any potential changes in publication policy affecting the discipline as a
- What impact do you think these changes would have on the profession as a whole?
[prompt the interviewee to consider any implications for the profession as well as the
pursuit of knowledge about the past]
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